Virgil narrated the legend of oxen that were purified by being immersed in the waters. Pliny the Younger wrote an epistle recalling the sacredness of the river, its navigability, its division between a bathing (the Springs) and a non-bathing part. Indeed, the area was rich in villas and spas along the water course as well as of chapels. The emperor Caligula was also a regular visitor of the “Sacred Clitumnalia”, namely the spring festivals in honour of the god Clitunno, who was believed to inhabit the deep waters.
This enchanted place has also been admired over the years, for example by Corot, George Byron and Carducci, the latter who dedicated his famous poem “Ode to Clitumno’s Sources”. A marble stone carved in bas-relief and an epigraph by Ugo Ojetti memorialize his visit in 1910.
The springs, said Pliny himself, were so copious to create a big river navigable to Rome, and flowing into the Tiber. In 440 AD a terrible earthquake radically changed the area by scattering most of its veins. Despite this, Clitunno is still one among the largest springs in Umbria, producing 1300 – 1500 litres per second. The present arrangement is due to the work of the Count Paolo Campello della Spina who between 1860 and 1865 created the pond and planted poplars and willows around that. Besides fish, the lake is home to distinctive swans and some species of aquatic birds.